The Barton Inn Hotel and Spa on the Niagara River has opened for business — partly, at least — but it has come with a cost.
The initial $5 million construction estimate has doubled, the owners said, and rumors and cancellations have marred the inn’s long-anticipated debut.
Ed and Diane Finkbeiner have worked every day for the last two years, often as long as 20 hours a day, to get to the point where the village has allowed the bottom two floors to open for business.
The Finkbeiners own Barton Hill, an 1815-style mansion they’ve completely renovated atop the hill that overlooks the Niagara River. They also bought vacant property behind their house at Center and First streets to “protect their investment,” then started planning how they could develop that land, too.
This past year, they also bought the historic Trafford Mansion, a two-story abandoned restaurant across the street, which they have renovated into a full-service spa. The spa also is open, complete with hair and coloring salon and aromatherapy, massage, pedicure and manicure services.
The enthusiasm the couple has brought to the project has been a mixed blessing for village leaders, most of whom praise the project for bringing more panache to an already
classy village, but who also have heard complaints from some residents who believe that the Finkbeiners have been allowed to slide on village codes and occupancy rules.
The inn’s large rooms have crown molding, fireplaces, flat-screen televisions, bathrooms with marble or ornate tile showers (whirlpool rooms are not ready yet) and even fancy iPod radio/alarm clocks that play nature sounds. Hardwood floors and antique fixtures are part of the design. An underground parking garage and a swimming pool remain under construction.
Quality takes time, Diane Finkbeiner said. She said the hotel came out the way the couple wanted but called the process “evolutionary.”
Giuliana and Diane Finkbeiner said building codes were followed completely and both said it was common to do a project of this size in stages, noting that the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel opened in phases in Niagara Falls.
New general manager Jeffrey Demin comes from an upscale ranch resort in Arizona. He said his wife is from Youngstown and they are looking forward to living in the community. He has only been on the job a week and a half. “The great part about Lewiston is that we look out for each other,” he added. “We are concerned and want to do things right, but that has also made it difficult.”
The Finkbeiners are offering a guided tour to anyone interested in seeing the hotel.